This week English Class fourth graders are learning about the states of matter. Their investigations began on Monday by learning about air as a form of matter. The fourth graders learned that air is made of various gases and that these gases have mass or weight. They learned about the scientific method of investigating: observing, forming a hypothesis, conducting an experiment, making notations about observations and then drawing a conclusion. For their first experiment small groups of fourth graders set about to prove that, although invisible, air actually occupies space. Their experiment consisted of putting a deflated balloon into the mouth of a plastic bottle and then stretching the mouth of the balloon over the rim of the bottle. The challenge then was to blow up the balloon inside the bottle. Even super lungs couldn’t blow up the balloon. The fourth graders concluded that this was because the air in the bottle was taking up space and therefore prevented the balloon from expanding. Only when a hole had been punched in the bottom of the bottle so air could escape were the pupils able to blow up the balloon inside the bottle. There were real crows of delight at succeeding at this challenge.
Another experiment also proved that air takes up space. In this experiment the pupils tucked a paper towel in the bottom of a glass. Working in small groups they submerged the glasses upside down in water and noticed that the paper towel stayed dry. When they tipped the glasses to let air escape the level of the water inside the glass rose. More experiments about the wondrous properties of matter will follow this week.